And we're off and running. The World Cup opener is in the books, and we're now getting ready for the next stop in Lillehammer, Norway.
We flew up to Kuusamo the weekend before last, ready for winter and the cold and dark of the arctic. We got our share of dark, but the temps were pretty mild and the sun even came out to say hello on Thanksgiving.
We competed in the small resort village of Ruka, near the city of Kuusamo. The cross-country skiers and ski jumpers also had World Cups there. Every hotel in Ruka was packed with skiers, coaches, techs and gear reps.
Our competition started on Friday with the Provisional jump. The provisional is used if the weather doesn't cooperate the next day during the actual competition, and only the top 50 from provisional qualify to compete in the jumping the next day. Bryan jumped to 32nd in the provisional and was the only one of us in the top-50. So Brett, Taylor and I were out, unless the weather was bad and they had to use the Provisional. We weren't too optimistic, but then again, Kuusamo is a notoriously windy jump.
On Saturday morning, the wind gods were on our side. After canceling trial round and getting a few of the first jumpers down safely, the wind kept getting stronger and the jury had to cancel. It was good news for all of us! (Except for Bryan, who would have liked to try to jump to a better position).
Although Taylor, Brett and I weren't in a position to ski into points, we were all stoked to race. This bit of luck definitely made my weekend.
Bryan led the way from our crew, skiing up from 32nd to finish a solid 17th. Taylor skied the 2nd fastest time on the day and finished in 36th. I moved up from 56th to 44th. I had the 17th fastest time was pretty psyched with my race, considering it was my first ever individual World Cup race against a full-field. (I raced in a an individual World Cup in Chaikovsky, RU, but many of the top guys weren't there).
On Sunday we competed in the 2-man team sprint. For this format they combine our jump scores and then we each ski 5 laps of 1.5km, tagging off to our partner between. Sprint and stop, sprint and stop. The Fletcher brothers finished 13th, Brett and I were 19th. Out of 23 teams, it wasn't our best performance, but I was happy with my racing again. Team sprints are basically the hardest race we do, and not usually my strongest suit. So I was happy to be on the better side of the middle of the pack with the 20th fastest time.
All in all, last weekend was a fun way to start the season. We'll get a couple training session on the jump hill here in Lillehammer, and we should all be ready to bring our A-game for the weekend.
After a quick strength session Monday morning we flew to Oslo and drove to Lillehammer.
There's a little more daylight here in Lillehammer than in Ruka, The sun stays out until the late hour of 3. When days are this short, an extra hour is a blessing.
Stay tuned for this weekend's events. Two individual comps on deck!
Where am I?